US 20070044503 A1
A MULTIFUNCTION COOLER is disclosed that permits a single portable cooler to simultaneously operate as a conventional portable refrigeration device, a personal air conditioner, and a portable air inflation device. The disclosed cooler incorporates an air injection port that permits warm air external to the cooler to be forced through ice or other coolant material inside the cooler. The air injection is facilitated by an electric air blower or other fan apparatus which vents air from within the coldest portions of the interior of the cooler confines to an exhaust port which may be used as a source of air conditioning or alternatively as an air inflation device.
1. A multifunction cooler comprising:
(a) cooler body;
(b) cooler lid covering said cooler body;
(c) air injection port fixed on said cooler body to permit air outside of said cooler to enter said cooler body and be forced to the bottom of said cooler body;
(d) air exhaust port fixed on said cooler body to permit air inside of said cooler to exhaust said cooler body;
(e) blower motor connected to said air exhaust port;
said air injection port permits warm ambient air outside of said cooler body to be chilled by the contents of said cooler body to form chilled air within said cooler body;
said blower motor draws said chilled air from the bottom of said cooler body and exhausts said chilled air through said air exhaust port;
said air exhaust port may be utilized as a portable source of refrigerated air;
said air exhaust port may alternatively be utilized as an air inflation device.
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13. A method of operating a cooler, said cooler comprising a cooler body, cooler lid covering said cooler body, air injection port fixed on said cooler body to permit air outside of said cooler to enter and be forced to the bottom of said cooler body where it becomes chilled air, air exhaust port fixed on said cooler body to permit air inside of said cooler body to exhaust said cooler body, blower motor connected to said air exhaust port, said method comprising:
(1) placing ice in said cooler body;
(2) activating said blower motor to permit air at ambient temperatures to enter said cooler body, pass through said ice at the bottom of said cooler body, and exit through said air exhaust port.
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Applicant claims benefit pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 119 and hereby incorporates by reference Provisional Patent Application for “MULTIFUNCTION COOLER”, Ser. No. 60/711,268, docket BRM-2005-001, filed 8/25/2005, and submitted to the USPTO with Express Mail on 8/25/2005 with tracking number ER618466134US.
All of the material in this patent application is subject to copyright protection under the copyright laws of the United States and of other countries. As of the first effective filing date of the present application, this material is protected as unpublished material.
However, permission to copy this material is hereby granted to the extent that the copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent documentation or patent disclosure, as it appears in the United States Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
The present invention is related to portable recreational coolers. Generally, the field consists of a cooler body and cooler lid formed of insulating material or various types of thermoplastic. These are useful in transporting ice or other cooling material for the purposes of cooling drinks or providing refrigeration of foodstuffs.
The field generally does not address the use of coolers as multifunction devices. The present invention integrates the functionality of a conventional portable recreational cooler and that of a portable air conditioner and a portable air inflation device.
Accordingly, the objectives of the present invention are (among others) to circumvent the deficiencies in the prior art and affect the following objectives:
While these objectives should not be understood to limit the teachings of the present invention, in general these objectives are achieved in part or in whole by the disclosed invention that is discussed in the following sections. One skilled in the art will no doubt be able to select aspects of the present invention as disclosed to affect any combination of the objectives described above.
The present invention is generally illustrated in
While a variety of electric blower motors may be utilized, some preferred embodiments of the present invention make use of a power cord (0107) which may be configured with a conventional automobile cigarette lighter adapter as illustrated in
Application of the present invention as illustrated in
Application of the present invention as illustrated in
For a fuller understanding of the advantages provided by the invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description together with the accompanying drawings wherein:
While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detailed preferred embodiment of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiment illustrated.
The numerous innovative teachings of the present application will be described with particular reference to the presently preferred embodiment, wherein these innovative teachings are advantageously applied to the particular problems of a MULTIFUNCTION COOLER. However, it should be understood that this embodiment is only one example of the many advantageous uses of the innovative teachings herein. In general, statements made in the specification of the present application do not necessarily limit any of the various claimed inventions. Moreover, some statements may apply to some inventive features but not to others.
The present invention preferred exemplary embodiment is generally illustrated in
The general system application is conceptually illustrated in
The general concept embodied by the invention is illustrated in
Subsequent to this heat transfer, the air is injected (0304) into the air intake for the exhaust blower (0106), drawn through the electric blower (0105), and ejected/exhausted to the outside of the cooler as cold air. As illustrated in
Key to the optimal operation of this system is having the air transfer path traverse the lower portion of the cooler. This is because any cold air residing in the cooler will reside at the bottom of the cooler. Additionally, by having the transfer path of the air forced to the bottom of the cooler, it ensures that any warm ambient outside air is forced to travel across/through any remaining ice or other cold object at the bottom of the cooler, ensuring an efficient heat transfer from the ambient air to any cold objects in the cooler.
Additionally, it should be noted that as illustrated in
As illustrated in
As illustrated in
This feature of the system is important from a practical sense in that it permits the system to fully function as a conventional cooler yet permit its use as an air conditioner and/or air inflation device without sacrificing any cooler functionality. This feature is not available in any configuration taught by the prior art.
This exhaust air temperature can provide a significant degree of personal cooling when operated as illustrated in
One skilled in the art will recognize that the output port attachment examples illustrated in
As illustrated in
This capability may be augmented as illustrated in
Note that this portable air inflation feature is unique to the present invention, and is particularly useful in situations where coolers are typically used, such as on boats, beaches, lakes, and around pools. Thus, the present invention permits integration of three functions that are very useful in these situations: cooling of foodstuffs, personal air conditioning, and inflation of personal floatation devices.
Construction materials for the system may vary widely, but a preferred exemplary embodiment uses the following materials:
Note that one skilled in the art will recognize that the construction materials detailed above and the exemplary construction as detailed below can be integrated into a one or more manufacturing steps wherein the cooler body (0101), intake port (0103), exhaust port (0104), and associated internal tubing can be molded into a single unitary structure in one or more molding steps. This alternative manufacturing methodology may even include incorporation of the housing for the electric blower motor within the context of the overall molding operation.
The following illustrates an exemplary construction methodology, which may be superseded by the use of an integrated mold construction methodology as discussed above, but nonetheless gives an exemplary working embodiment of the present invention capable of producing acceptable results in a variety of operating conditions. Construction methodology for the system may vary widely, but a preferred exemplary embodiment uses the following construction technique:
One skilled in the art will quickly recognize that the construction detailed above may be augmented via the use of a variety of plastic molding techniques which would reduce and/or eliminate various components by integrating them within the construction of a molded cooler interior. As such, one skilled in the art will recognize that many of the construction details may not be executed in practice, but are provided to give a complete picture of the features of the present invention and the teachings thereon.
In any construction technique, the basic concept of capturing warm outside ambient air and forcing this air into the cooler and depositing the air at the bottom of the cooler is central to the optimal construction of the present invention. Additionally, the use of opposing sides of the cooler for intake/exhaust ports and extraction of air from only the bottom 8-10 inches of the cooler (or under the ice) is central to the optimal performance of the claimed invention. This construction methodology ensures that air is forced under/through the ice at the bottom of the cooler as contrasted with just being blown over the surface of the ice or other cooling material. This technique ensures super cooled air in the range of 40° F.-50° F. and also permits use of the cooling material to keep foodstuffs and/or drinks on top of the ice cold.
As constructed, this preferred exemplary embodiment when filled with ice and powered (exemplary embodiment utilizes 12V, but 110V is available) has the ability to produce air cooled to 40-50 degrees at the air exhaust port entrance, and 60 degrees with 4-foot hose attachment.
As constructed, this preferred exemplary embodiment is powered by a 12 volt power supply, (car cigarette lighter or equivalent 12-volt power source), but other power options are well known to those skilled in the art, including but not limited to the use of solar and 120V AC power sources. The present invention specifically anticipates that some embodiments may incorporate integral battery operation, and that some of these configurations may incorporate rechargeable batteries and/or solar powered operation.
Additionally, it should be noted that the air exiting the cooler has been filtered by the ice and water at the bottom of the cooler, with the ice water trapping dust or pollen/contaminants in the air. As such, the present invention has the added feature of an air filtration device.
Note that the system as detailed may be used as a conventional ice chest or “cooler” as well as a portable air conditioning system by redirecting the cold air emitted from the exhaust port of the cooler air exhaust port to the person or area that desires cool air. This air exhaust port may also be redirected (via the use of constricting adapters) as a source of pressurized air for use as an air inflating device.
Thus, the present invention can be utilized in recreational and other environments (such as camping, construction equipment, emergency first responders, vehicles, etc.) where cold food/drinks are desired, portable air conditioning is desirable, and/or the availability of an air inflation device is optimal. Environments such as sporting events, fishing, boating, and general outdoor recreation are typical environments in which the benefits of this invention exceed that of the prior art.
The exemplary output port attachments illustrated in
Thus, the present invention specifically anticipates that the portable air conditioning feature of the present invention may be mated to a wide variety of clothing, furniture, and/or other devices in which a supply of cool air is useful in regulating the body temperature of a person. This combined air conditioning system is enhanced due to the multifunction and portable nature of the cooler, and provides opportunities for enhanced enjoyment of outdoor activities during periods of increased ambient temperature and/or humidity. It should also be noted that in some circumstances the integration of the multifunction air conditioning system in the present invention with an article of clothing and/or furniture may permit persons who are overheated to reduce their body temperature so as to prevent heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
The exemplary construction detailed herein may be widely varied as to dimensions. Therefore, the exemplary construction dimensions detailed herein are for illustration purposes only and are not to be interpreted as limiting the scope of the claimed invention.
The foregoing description has indicated the use of ice as the cooling agent within the context of the cooler system, but the invention specifically anticipates the use of “cold packs” or other materials which are either cooled or frozen, but which may not contain water as their primary component. Therefore, the term “ice” when used herein should be broadly interpreted to mean any cooling agent capable of extracting heat from the ambient air.
The present invention anticipates a wide variety of variations in the basic theme of construction. The examples presented previously do not represent the entire scope of possible usages. They are meant to cite a few of the almost limitless possibilities.
The present invention may incorporate a method of using the system as described in an application wherein a multifunction cooler is utilized as a portable personal air conditioner. This method may be generally described as follows:
This method may be augmented and/or modified as follows in some preferred exemplary embodiments:
A MULTIFUNCTION COOLER has been disclosed that permits a single portable cooler to simultaneously operate as a conventional portable refrigeration device, a personal air conditioner, and a portable air inflation device. The disclosed cooler incorporates an air injection port that permits warm air external to the cooler to be forced through ice or other coolant material inside the cooler. The air injection is facilitated by an electric air blower or other fan apparatus which vents air from within the coldest portions of the interior of the cooler confines to an exhaust port which may be used as a source of air conditioning or alternatively as an air inflation device.
Although a preferred embodiment of the present invention has been illustrated in the accompanying drawings and described in the foregoing Detailed Description, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, but is capable of numerous rearrangements, modifications, and substitutions without departing from the spirit of the invention as set forth and defined by the following claims.